World War II history buffs are very familiar with Arnhem as the site of the Operation Market Garden battle of September 1944, which was documented in the 1977 movie, "A Bridge Too Far". This battle was one of the worst for the Allies, with over 17,000 Allied troops killed, wounded, or captured. The winter of 1944-1945 was a horrible one for the Dutch civilians living near Arnhem, as hundreds died of hunger since no food could be imported from Allied-held Belgium. Even though Arnhem was a disaster for the Allies, the Dutch still revere the Allied troops who tried in vain to capture the town.
Those interested in learning about Operation Market Garden should plan to visit the Airborne Museum Hartenstein, which is located in a mansion used by the British as their headquarters during the battle. Near the museum is the Oosterbeek War Cemetery where over 1700 Allied soldiers are buried. Since it was Easter Sunday, the museum was closed, but we did ride through the quiet, peaceful cemetery.
Today, Arnhem is an industrial city, manufacturing synthetic fibers and conducting technology research. The city also has many lovely old homes since it was once a favorite retirement place for Dutch Colonials returning from Indonesia.
The Amalegro passengers had a guided tour of the Netherlands Open Air Museum (Nederlands Openluchtmuseum) in Arnhem. This museum was opened in 1918 and is a collection of old buildings and artifacts that demonstrate the Netherlands heritage and traditions. We rode the tram with our guide to the furthest point in the park and walked back to the main gate, watching the costumed volunteers demonstrate blacksmithing, weaving, and farming. Before boarding the buses, we attended the HollandRama, a multimedia show that provides information on the social-economic history of the Netherlands.
I've visited other open air museums in Stockholm, Kizhi, and Bucharest, and think they all do an excellent job of attempting to preserve the architecture, crafts, and everyday life of the native peoples of the regions they represent.
We returned to the Amalegro in time for lunch, and the ship sailed for Nijmegen at noon.
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